Anaerobic reactors by Chernicharo, Carlos Augusto de Lemos

By Chernicharo, Carlos Augusto de Lemos

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In practice, the methanogenic microorganisms become more inhibited only when the COD/SO4 2− ratio is less than 7, but are strongly dependent on the pH. For high COD/SO4 2− ratios (>10), a large portion of the H2 S produced will be removed from the liquid phase, in view of a higher production of biogas, thus reducing its inhibiting effect on the liquid phase. Part of the hydrogen sulfide produced passes to the gaseous phase (biogas), which may cause corrosion and bad odour problems. If the biogas is intended to be used, an additional cost should be estimated for its purification.

This was for many years the greatest problem of anaerobic digestion, as the solids retention time could not be controlled independently of the hydraulic detention time. Thus, the microorganisms involved in the process, which have low growth rates, needed extremely long retention times and consequently reactors of large volumes. The development of high-rate anaerobic processes solved this problem, since these processes are capable of allowing the presence of a large amount of high-activity biomass, which can be maintained in the reactor even when operated at low hydraulic detention times.

This was for many years the greatest problem of anaerobic digestion, as the solids retention time could not be controlled independently of the hydraulic detention time. Thus, the microorganisms involved in the process, which have low growth rates, needed extremely long retention times and consequently reactors of large volumes. The development of high-rate anaerobic processes solved this problem, since these processes are capable of allowing the presence of a large amount of high-activity biomass, which can be maintained in the reactor even when operated at low hydraulic detention times.

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